Whilst this blog has been written many times before by Jiu-Jitsu dudes, I guess but this this is my take on the obligatory “gringo competes in Brazil”. This was my day competing at the CBJJ No-Gi Brazilian Nationals. I’ve been putting in the work on the mats, since arriving in Rio and I’ve trained twice, sometimes three times a day. The only issue with this, has been that I was competing in a No-Gi comp and all my training has been in the Gi. I’ve probably done 4 No-Gi sessions, going ‘sem kimono’ is not really a big thing here in Rio. I was basing my training on the principle that if I’m not doing No-Gi then my opponents won’t be either. That was the theory anyway!
I was competing at 80KG masters division, now I’d arrived in Brazil as the fatter version of myself weighing around 87KG as a result of a multitude of goodbye meals, drinks etc. So I had a bit of weight to get rid of but I’d been eating super clean for the last 3 weeks, which really sucked ass when everyone else is eating acai every day and I’m eating Broccoli. I was hoping to wake up on the day at around 79kg so I could eat some breakfast, I wasn’t going to be competing until 3PM which means serious hunger. Anyway I hit the scales in the morning to discover I was 77.8KG so perhaps I could have eaten that piece of bread my heart longed for.
We arrived at the spot at around 9AM as some of the dudes were competing early but this meant that I had a long ass wait until my fights. Competing in Brazil for the first time was always gonna bring out the nerves but the competition was held at the Tijuaca Tennis Club which is pretty much the most famous venue for Jiu-Jitsu. This is the spot where classic matches & feuds have taken place, world champions have been crowned and legends have been created. So you could say I had the nerves like I was peeing next to Dirk Diggler! And damn did I have some time to sit around and worry!
Time rolled around, I managed not to be a dumb-ass and miss my category when it was mumbled out of the speakers in barely audible Portugese. I was seriously hoping to pick up some magical black belt powers left over from classic mat battles. The first dude I fought trained at Carlson Gracies so I had already decided that he was gonna be a beast. Thankfully my nerves couldn’t talk me out of it and the match went according to the Mozineo gameplan, I swept from deep half, came up on top, passed his half guard and submitted the dude with a kimura from side. The rush of adrenaline competing on those mats was like nothing else. There was at least 500 people in that piece and Brazilians don’t seem to do anything quietly, so the noise was crazy.
In the final, homeboy was a strong ass dude, whilst I won 17-2 on points which sounds like a beat-down, it was still tough. It was seriously awesome to have 20 something of my Connection Rio homeslices there supporting, it wasn’t quite Rocky 4 crowd conversion but I had my own peoples cheering for me. Special thanks to my dudes Mike and Jimmy for cornering me.
Boom I won! I can legitimately say I a Brazilian National Champion which is something I am going to tell every single person I ever meet for the rest of forever! What made it even more sweet, I stepped off the podium to see Professor Terere, I got a massive congratulatory hug. At this moment the realisation hits me ‘I won a gold medal in Brazil in front of Terere, this is the best moment of my life!’. Celebrations involved the immediate consumption of acai and demolition of 21 slices of pizza, keeping it classy but gangsta!
There is an epilogue to this celebratory tale, come Monday morning any notion that an am indeed dope as hell was shattered abruptly. Some killer dudes came over from Sao Paulo to train at the academy and I was unceremoniously triangled in roughly 20 secs by a 16 year old blue belt – bubble burst!
Oh and check the sweet new mini doc on Professor Terere and the inspiration dude he is